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The First Mate's Journal
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Great Lakes to The Bahamas
Who: Wayne & Pat
Port: Jackson
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On the Banks Part II
SW winds 20mph seas 2-4 ft 64.9 miles today
02/19/2009, Bimini (N25*43.473 W079*17.858) to… anchoring out on the Bahamas Bank (N25*27.010 W078*19.114)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A little after 2pm Aurora hailed us to say they blew their jib and were slowed up a bit. They were going to motor back up and motor sail so we let some of the power out of our sails so they could catch up. I told them we'd keep an eye out for them, but it was rough letting the wind out of the sails. Kolibrie still wanted to go 6 knots but Wayne got her to slow down to 3-4 knots until Aurora passed us. The winds are still blowing from 15-20mph and we've sped back up a bit to 6.0 knots now that Aurora has gained on us. We're talking about stopping around 5pm but we're so far behind Sooo Fine 2 that we'll probably still be sailing until 7 until we catch up to him LOL. Waves are still in the 2-4 ft range at 4pm. It's an amazing view - looking in any direction all you can see is blue-sky meeting emerald water. No land in sight anywhere. White capped waves of green and blue sky and looking down you can see the sand beneath the water.

After thinking about it, I was wondering if Aurora's sun protector separated from the sail like ours did. If so, it's repairable... So I hailed them on the radio to see if that was the case. They weren't quite sure but I told them if that was the case we had our sewing machine with us because we'd done that last year. If we could find a quiet anchorage to pull it out and look at it, we might be able to repair it. We'll see at the next anchorage - I think we're heading to the same place in the Berry Islands - around the Chub Cay area. The one today won't work because it's all water on the banks.

So Fine 2 picked out some coordinates for us to meet at to anchor for the night and called to verify that it was okay for Aurora and us. It shows 9-10 ft depth so we said okay, then I checked it out, as far as distance, and it was a little over 10 miles, which meant getting in about 6 - 6:30. Wayne cranked on the engine to get our speed up so we could make it in before dark. We pulled in at 6:09 and dropped anchor at sunset. It was almost a 12-hour sail today. 64.9 miles. Depth here is 13 ft. Position: N25*27.010 W078*19.114 It's weird to anchor in such shallow depths with no land in sight anywhere... Feels like "Water World" (the movie). We're anchored 2 miles off of the route to make sure that we're out of the "traffic lane" if there are any boats traveling through the banks tonight. The charts show suggested routes to follow for those unsure of the depths that have 6 ft drafts (I for one appreciate that!).

Salmon in a ginger, soy, garlic, lime and honey sauce with salad and Bimini bread for dinner. Then up top to see the stars. It should be a terrific view of the sky. The only lights are our three anchor lights (Sooo Fine 2, Aurora, and Kolibrie). The moon hasn't risen yet and won't until after midnight. When it does rise, it will only be a waning
crescent. I think the new moon is around the 24th. I think the other two boats either ate during our sail or skipped dinner - there are no lights on other than their anchor lights. Long day without much sleep last night either.

Out on the Banks Part I
SW winds 20mph seas 2-4 ft 64.9 miles today
02/19/2009, Bimini (N25*43.473 W079*17.858) to… anchoring out on the Bahamas Bank (N25*27.010 W078*19.114)

Thursday, February 19, 2009
No problem waking up this morning. Had ½ cup of coffee before we started to head out, and then had to circle while a freighter carrying land/sea containers came through the narrow channel. It was boisterous exiting the channel back into the Atlantic then settled down a bit as we turned out and put up the sails.

We approached North Rock about 8 am with waves at 2-4 ft and winds 15-20mph. With it's antenna like light perched on it, it reminded me of a submarine. What a beautiful sunny morning with the winds off our starboard quarter we raised our sails and cut the engine. We were cruising through light mint green waters at 5-6 knots and as the day progressed the color of the water turned a jade green color then a beautiful aquamarine. It was a strange feeling to be moving along at 6 knots and when you looked down you could see the bottom with the sand and coral.

We managed to hold a speed from 6-7.8 knots for the longest time in depths of 10-30 feet and around 12:30 I saw a grey blob under the water. My initial thought was "oh oh - rock or coral head" but to my surprise it broke the water and raced along side the boat. A dolphin was swimming with us and then leading in our bow wake when another one came up along side of us and joined it swimming at our bow. I almost spun the boat around trying to watch them and probably scared them - they darted off at 90 degrees and then rejoined us as I got back on course. I had to radio Sooo Fine 2 and Aurora to give them a dolphin alert. A little later I saw flying fish, so they were probably jumping out of the water as the dolphins chased them. I can't believe how fast and quick the dolphins are. We were going 7.5 knots and they raced ahead of us like it was nothing!

Still in Bimini Part III
02/18/2009, Bimini Islands

On the way back we took the upper road on the other side of the island and I noticed a large yellow building with no roof. We speculated that maybe a hurricane had blown the roof off but as we walked along it, it was obvious that a fire had gutted the long strip building. I had to get a picture of Joan and Brigid along our walk the view was so pretty and as we started to cut back towards town we came by the Dolphin House Museum where an older man gave us trumpet flowers to welcome us to Bimini and another man at the museum - Ashley Saunders asked if we'd like a tour of the building. We did. It was $2/person and I have to say it was the best $2 I've spent in a long time. Ashley has spent the last 15 years building this place from coral, shells, and things he's found along the shore and the dumps. It's quite incredible - his masonary and tile skills. There are dolphins of tile, marbles, coral, glass, etc... and we got quite the history lesson of this place - his family is one of 3 major families here and I loved listening to his story of the house and the families. He's a writer of history, poems, and a builder of stone and the future. His mother sold bread so that he could go to school and get a degree. He was a history teacher to the kids here on the island - went to school in Wisconson and returned home to teach and preserve the history of the Biminis. I was asking him what Volume 1 and 2 in his History of Bimini contained and we got a brief history of the area. Volume 3 - he's currently working on - and here's where we found out that the burned out building that we passed had been set afire during the riots that occurred here. I guess the police shot a local that had been handcuffed which set off some good size riots in the islands here and the remnants of the building still stand.

We went for sundowners over at the pool/grill area again tonight. A lot of the French Canadians that were here last night had left this morning. One of the ladies had a contagious laugh last night, I was sad to see she wasn't here tonight. So from 4:30 - 7 we sat around chatting with the couples from 3 other French Canadian Boats, Aurora and Shahadaroba. I was glad we had this extra day here in Bimini - I thoroughly enjoyed the day. We talked with Lou & Donna (Sooo Fine 2) and tried to set up our MMSI communication with them on our two boats for tomorrows trip. I think I finally got it set up, we were able to chat with each other and call (similar to a phone between ships without going through the VHF chatter) but found out Aurora didn't have that so we'll stick to VHF hailing.

Back at the boat I made BLTs for dinner - very tastey. We agreed on 6:30 tomorrow morning for departure and I discovered that my phone alarm clock wouldn't work without cell coverage (it can't pinpoint a time and date). S*%$! Hope I wake up early - I probably will - I usually do...

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